Sanctify Your Day

Saint Josemaria taught that holiness comes from our small everyday acts, repeated over and over again. Here are some thoughts on how you can turn your daily activities into a prayer:

When you open a door, ask God to open a friend’s heart to God.

When you put sugar in your tea or coffee, ask God to make his teaching sweet to those that hear it.

When you wash your hands, ask God to cleanse you of your bad habits.

When you get a phone call, ask God to help a friend respond to Christ’s call to follow Him.

When you turn on a light, ask God to enlighten a friend to the truth of the Gospel.

When you get dressed, ask God to clothe the homeless.

When you drink something, ask God to fill you with his Spirit and nourish your soul.

When you sit down for a meal, ask God to feed the hungry.

When you visit a friend, ask God to bring fellowship to the lonely and desolate.

When you see an exit sign, ask God to give you the grace to flee temptation when it comes.

When you put your car into drive, ask God to give you grace to move forward and grow.

When you push the button for an elevator, ask God to send you help to get you where you need to go.

When you lace up your shoes, ask God to bind his promises to your heart.

When you put on your watch, ask God to impress upon you the short time you have on earth.

When your head hits the pillow, ask God to give rest to the weary.

Fast More

One of the few things all religions agree on is the benefits of fasting. Whether you do it for fitness or spiritual reasons, the act of abstaining from food can be a powerful, and free, tool.

As a means toward losing weight, fasting helps you to both reduce the amount you eat as well as well as gives your body time to burn fat. When you eat food, you consume carbs which become glucose that becomes insulin. This form of energy is what your body must burn through first before it starts to burn fat. This is why eating a low-carb diet (i.e. keto) helps with weight loss because you eat less carbs, which means you have less glucose to burn through, so you start burning fat sooner. And obviously the longer you go without eating, the longer your body is burning fat.

On the topic of insulin, there is a theory that obesity is actually caused by insulin resistance. When people form bad habits and eat a lot throughout the entire day, they are pumping their body full of lots of insulin all the time. Over time your body becomes worn out and insulin resistant. But in the same way that someone who is losing their hearing turns the volume up louder, your body produces more insulin in response to the insulin resistance, which then causes more insulin resistance and burn out, and it is a vicious cycle. Modern medicine treats insulin resistance by giving people more insulin, which is why they say diabetes isn’t reversible and you have to be on insulin the rest of your life. But people are finding that through extended fasts, you can deplete the reserve of insulin and begin to heal the insulin resistance and reverse type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is also why people who are overweight have a harder time losing weight/fat. Their body produces vast reserves of glucose/insulin so they are practically always burning that energy and never get to the point that they are burning fat. And the longer someone has been obese, the worse the insulin resistance, and the harder it will be to lose weight.

As for the spiritual benefits of fasting, in Mark 2, Jesus assumes we will be fasting when he says, “But the time will come when the bridegroom [Jesus] will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.” In Mark 9 we find out one reason why fasting is needed when the disciples were unable to heal the demon possessed boy. They asked Jesus why they weren’t able to and he responds saying, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

So aside from giving us greater spiritual strength, what else does fasting do for yourself from a spiritual point of view? Isaiah 58 says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen… to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer.” This idea of using your savings from a fast to serve the needy is actually deeply embedded in the Latter Day Saint tradition where members of that faith are called to a 24 hours fast one Sunday every month for that very purpose.

Fasting also serves to strengthen our resolve and give us an opportunity to earn grace for others. By voluntarily denying ourselves things we build strength to turn away from other temptations when they come. We also may “offer up” the suffering we experience during a fast for a special intention or as a reparation for our sins. The most common and popular season of fasting in the US is Lent where even non-Christians choose to “give something up for Lent.” But it is also common to hear people throughout their 40 day fast to lament that they “can’t have sweets” or that they are “dying for a drink.” To this point, in Matthew 6, Jesus says “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

The best online resource I’ve found to give you easy to understand information and instructions on fasting is by Dr. Jason Fung.

Mortify Yourself

“Paradox: to live we must die.” (Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 187)

Denying ourselves and mortifying our senses has always been regarded as a powerful means of conquering vice, acquiring positive habits, and building character. Saint Josemaria put it in these words, “Where there is no self-denial, there is no virtue.”

How does one go about choosing mortifications? Saint Josemaria gives us advice when he says, “Choose mortifications that don't mortify others... and let it be a reasonable penance, imposed as it were, on an enemy who is at the same time your brother.”

It is easy to think that mortification has to involve massive displays of suffering like the people in the Philippines who reenact the crucifixion every Good Friday. But on that topic Saint Josemaria says, “Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a Cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a christian spirit the pinpricks of each day! Think, then, which is the more heroic... The world admires only spectacular sacrifice, because it does not realize the value of sacrifice that is hidden and silent.”

There are corporal mortifications that involve denying our senses, and internal mortifications which involve putting to death our pride and anger. For corporal mortifications, the idea is that, “One has to give the body a little less than its due. Otherwise it turns traitor.” And for interior mortifications, we practice charity in times where it is especially difficult so that it becomes easier and easier.

What can we expect to gain from our efforts? According to Saint Josemaria, “These are the ripe fruits of the mortified soul: tolerance and understanding for the defects of others; intolerance for one's own.”

When you find it difficult to stick to your planned mortification, remember Saint Josemaria’s words, “You always come out beaten. Propose to yourself, each time, the salvation of a particular soul, or its sanctification, or its vocation to the apostolate. If you do so, you are certain of victory.”

Here are some examples I’ve come across that may help spark some thoughts on how you may want to mortify yourself.

 

Corporal Mortifications:

  • Place a small stone in your shoe

  • Wear a sack cloth under your clothes

  • Take a cold shower

  • Don’t use a pillow during sleep

  • Fast from a meal

  • Don’t hit snooze in the morning and get up right away

  • No sugar and/or creamer in tea/coffee

  • No alcohol

  • No smoking

  • No sweets

  • No social media

  • No gossip

  • No music

  • No tv/movies

 

Interior Mortifications:

  • Smile at someone who annoys you

  • Listen patiently to someone who bores you

  • Don’t say that biting remark on the tip of your tongue

  • Be kind to a boss that is overbearing

  • Take the smallest/worst piece when you get to choose

  • When a group of people is asked for assistance, be the first to offer your help

  • Pray for/forgive those who have hurt you

  • Wash other people’s dishes/serve them without saying anything

  • When going to get in a line, wait to be last, rather than rushing to be first.

 

Care Less

The world suffers not from caring too little, but too much. Too much about the wrong things and too much about too many things.

There seems to be a constant hum of guilt that we all tend to absorb and pass on to one another. This guilt comes from living a life which doesn’t seem to “care” enough about certain things.

We use a straw and the guilt of not “caring” for the environment rears its head. We see a picture of a malnourished African boy on Facebook and the guilt of not “caring” for poor people across the globe rears its head. We see a video of an African-American man being shot by a police officer and the guilt of not “caring” enough about racism rears its head.

Constant guilt. From every angle. But is the guilt valid? Does it even make sense? A large part of the problem is we are subconsciously being expected to care a lot about everything, all the time. And that is just impossible.

Caring about one thing, yourself, is hard enough as it is. To eat right, drink enough water, exercise, spend time being mindful, be social, get enough alone time, on and on. Caring, when done properly, takes time and mental and emotional energy.

So where does that leave us? We try to care about everything and end up doing a terrible job at all of it.

We try to “care” for the boy in Africa, but really what can we actually DO about it? Well we donate $20 and that scratches the itch of guilt just enough for us to move our attention to something else to feel guilty about. We see the video of the African-American man getting shot and so we change our profile picture to say “Black Lives Matter.” Did that actually do anything? Or was the main point of doing that to scratch the itch of guilt?

As we learned from Aristotle, the good lives in the middle, the golden mean. So the opposite of caring about everything, which is caring for nothing, also doesn’t make sense. So what are we left with? Choosing carefully the things we CAN care about and caring for those things well.

What should those things be? The best advice I’ve ever gotten is to keep it local. So that means starting with yourself. If you can’t get yourself to work out for 10 minutes before you take a shower, how do you expect to end poverty or racism.

Next care for your family. That means spending time with them, staying in touch, and fostering a deep relationship with them.

Next, care for your neighbors. This one seems the most strange in today’s world where no one knows their next door neighbor. But if everyone made sure their neighbors were taken care of, lots of problems would fix themselves, including racism and poverty.

And finally, care for your friends. I think most of us tend to already do this well.

And if you are doing an amazing job of caring for yourself and your family, friends, and neighbors, you won’t have time or energy left to care about anything else.

So what do you do when you see the picture of the African boy or the picture of the shooting? Ask yourself, “Of the things I care about (which are myself, my family, and my neighbors, and my friends), what can I do to make sure these problems aren’t an issue for them?” That means making sure those you care about aren’t struggling with poverty. And that you aren’t perpetuating racism through your actions. And so forth.

As always, these things are harder said than done. Virtue always is.

Love More / Judge Less

The author Gerald Jampolsky has three amazing books that have really helped me to judge less, love more, and to live in peace, not fear. Here are some of the best quotes from those three books.

Book: Love is Letting Go of Fear

“Sometimes we put more value in predicting and controlling than in having peace of mind. At times, it feels more important for us to predict that we are going to be miserable the next moment, and then find pleasure in being right, than to have true happiness in the present moment. This can be looked upon as an insane way of trying to protect ourselves. It produces a short circuit that confuses pleasure with pain. We often believe that the fears of the past can successfully predict the fears of the future. The results of this type of thinking are that we spend most of our time worrying about both the past and future, creating a vicious circle of fear, which leaves little room for Love and joy in the present.”

“With peace of mind as our single goal, forgiveness becomes our single function. Forgiveness is the vehicle used for correcting our misperceptions and for helping us let go of fear. Simply stated, to forgive is to let go. Our first step in mind retraining is to establish peace of mind as our single goal. This means thinking of ourselves first in terms of self-fullness, not selfishness. The second step is forgiveness. Many of us become frustrated when we make the mistake of trying to love others as the first step. In light of our past distorted values and experiences, some people simply seem unlovable; because of our faulty perception of their behavior, it is difficult to love them. When we have peace of mind as a single goal, we can then take the second step, forgiveness, and choose to see others as extending Love, or being fearful and calling for help in the form of Love. With this new perception, it becomes easier to give both total Love and acceptance to the other person and therefore to experience inner peace at the same time.”

“Peace of mind is our single goal. Forgiveness is our single function and the way to achieve our goal of peace of mind. Through forgiveness, we can learn not to judge others and to see everyone, including ourselves, as guiltless. We can let go of fear when we stop judging and stop projecting the past into the future, and live only in the now. We can learn to accept direction from our inner intuitive voice, which is our guide to knowing. After our inner voice gives us direction, it will also provide the means for accomplishing whatever is necessary. In following one’s inner guidance, it is frequently necessary to make a commitment to a specific goal even when the means for achieving it are not immediately apparent. This is a reversal of the customary logic of the world, and can be thought of as “putting the cart before the horse.”

“We do have a choice in determining what we perceive and the feelings we experience. Through retraining of the mind we can learn to use positive active imagination. Positive active imagination enables us to develop positive, loving motion pictures in our minds.”

“To experience this sense of total freedom, it is important for us to detach ourselves from past–future preoccupations and choose to live in the now. To be free also means not to be confined to the reality that seems limited by our physical senses. To be free allows us to participate in the Love we share with everyone. We cannot be free until we discipline and retrain our minds. While all of us want Love, many of us seem unable to experience it. Our guilty fears from the past block our ability to give and receive Love in the present. Fear and Love can never be experienced at the same time. It is always our choice as to which of these emotions we want. By choosing Love more consistently than fear, we can change the nature and quality of our relationships.”

“When we perceive another person as attacking us, we usually feel defensive and find a way, directly or indirectly, to attack back. Attacking always stems from fear and guilt. No one attacks unless he first feels threatened and believes that through attack he can demonstrate his own strength, at the expense of another’s vulnerability. Attack is really a defense and, as with all defenses that are designed to keep guilt and fear from our awareness, attack actually preserves the problem. Most of us cling to the belief that attacking can really get us something we want. We seem to forget that attacking and defending do not bring us inner peace. In order to experience peace instead of conflict, it is necessary to shift our perception. Instead of seeing others as attacking us, we can see them as fearful. We are always expressing either Love or fear. Fear is really a call for help, and therefore a request for Love. It is apparent, then, that to experience peace we must recognize that we do have a choice in determining what we perceive. Many of our attempts to correct others, even when we believe we are offering constructive criticism, are really attempts to attack them by demonstrating their wrongness and our rightness. It may be helpful to examine our motivations. Are we teaching Love or are we demonstrating attack? If others do not change in accordance with our expectations, we are likely to regard them as guilty, and thus reinforce our own belief in guilt. Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others, but by simply accepting them as they are. True acceptance is always without demands and expectations.”

“Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is the letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions. Our misperceptions can only be undone now, and can be accomplished only through letting go whatever we think other people have done to us, or whatever we think we have done to them. Through this process of selective forgetting, we become free to embrace a present without the need to reenact our past. Through true forgiveness we can stop the endless recycling of guilt and look upon ourselves and others with Love. Forgiveness releases all thoughts that seem to separate us from each other. Without the belief in separation, we can accept our own healing and extend healing Love to all those around us. Healing results from the thought of unity.”

“Peace of mind occurs, therefore, when we put all our attention into giving and have no desire to get anything from, or to change, another person. The giving motivation leads to a sense of inner peace and joy that are unrelated to time.”

“To aid in retraining your mind, remember to ask yourself the following questions in all circumstances, private or interpersonal. Do I choose to experience Peace of Mind or do I choose to experience Conflict? Do I choose to experience Love or Fear? Do I choose to be a Love Finder or a Fault Finder? Do I choose to be a Love Giver or a Love Sender? Is this communication (verbal or nonverbal) Loving to the other person and is it Loving to me?”

“To give is to receive—this is the law of Love. Under this law, when we give our Love away to others we gain, and whatever we give we simultaneously receive. The law of Love is based on abundance; we are completely filled with Love all the time, and our supply is always full and running over. When we give our Love unconditionally to others with no expectations of return, the Love within us extends, expands, and joins. So by giving our Love away we increase the Love within us and everyone gains.”

“When we expect others to satisfy our desires, and they disappoint us, as they inevitably must, we experience distress. This distress can take the form of frustration, disappointment, anger, depression, or illness. As a result, we are likely to feel trapped, limited, rejected, or attacked. When we are feeling unloved and depressed and empty inside, finding someone to give us Love is not really the solution. What is helpful is to Love someone else totally and with no expectations. That Love, then, is simultaneously given to ourselves. The other person doesn’t have to change or give us something.”

“Through selective forgetting, through taking off the tinted glasses that superimpose the fearful past upon the present, we can begin to know that the truth of Love is forever present and that by perceiving only Love we can experience happiness. Forgiveness then becomes a process of letting go and overlooking whatever we thought other people may have done to us, or whatever we may think we have done to others.”

“Forgiveness, as defined here, is different from the way most of us have been trained to understand it. Forgiveness does not mean assuming a position of superiority and putting up with or tolerating behavior in another person that we do not like. Forgiveness means correcting our misperception that the other person harmed us. The unforgiving mind, contrasted with the forgiving mind, is confused, afraid, and full of fear. It is certain of the interpretation it places on its perceptions of others. It is certain of the justification of its anger and the correctness of its condemning judgment. The unforgiving mind rigidly sees the past and future as the same and is resistant to change. It does not want the future to be different from the past. The unforgiving mind sees itself as innocent and others as guilty. It thrives on conflict and being right, and it sees inner peace as its enemy. It perceives everything as separate.”

“I recognize today that my attack thoughts about others are really directed against myself. When I believe that attacking others brings me something I want, let me remember that I always attack myself first. I do not wish to hurt myself again today.”

“Not judging others is another way of letting go of fear and experiencing Love. When we learn not to judge others—and totally accept them, and not want to change them—we can simultaneously learn to accept ourselves.”

“Spend as much time as you can before tomorrow ridding yourself of all the past, painful guilty, fearful thoughts and experiences you have had with your son. Release yourselves from any guilt you have about your son’s condition. Use your active imagination and put all your fears, guilt, and pain in a garbage can and attach it to a yellow balloon filled with helium. Print on the balloon, I forgive my misperceptions. Then watch the balloon and garbage can disappear into the sky. Pay attention to how much lighter and freer you feel.”

“When we dwell on past events or anticipate future happenings, we are living in the realm of fantasy. Whatever is real in our lives can only be experienced now. We block the possibility of fresh and novel experiences in our lives when we attempt to relive in the present our memories of episodes from the past, whether painful or pleasurable. We are, therefore, in a continual state of conflict about the actual happenings of the present and are unable to directly experience the opportunities for happiness that are all about us.”

“Repeat to yourself whenever you feel that your peace is threatened by anything or anyone: I choose to see the unity of peace instead of the fragmentation of fear.”

“That free will and choice are inherent attributes of the mind is something most of us tend to forget. We have all had the experience of feeling trapped in a situation where there seemed to be no escape. Here is a suggestion that may prove helpful under such circumstances. You can use active imagination to find a way out. Picture a wall and let it represent your problem. On this wall, paint a door and hang a red exit sign above it. Imagine yourself opening the door, walking through it, and shutting it firmly behind you. Your problem is no longer with you, since you have left it behind. Experience your newfound freedom by imagining yourself in a place where you have no worries and there is nothing to do other than what you would enjoy. When you are ready to leave your happy retreat, bring with you this newfound sense of release from past problem-solving attempts. In the freshness of your new perception, solutions previously unavailable to you will now occur.”

“If we perceive things not as problems but rather as opportunities for learning, we can experience a sense of joy and well-being when the lessons are learned. We are never presented with lessons until we are ready to learn them.”

Book: Teach Only Love

“The belief that the past provides the true laws of life enters our minds in an even more subtle way than through our direct attempts to control what is to come. We constantly think about the future and expect it to be like the past. Our fantasies and idle thoughts attempt to project in the future what we remember having liked in the past and to see eliminated what was difficult and painful. When we think in this way we are not looking ahead in a practical and reasonable manner, but we are merely making a mental state that is composed almost entirely of fear. We believe that the general turn of the events in our lives is not to be trusted, and so we view everyone and everything either as an enemy or at least as potentially dangerous. This attitude, in turn, makes us feel unworthy of love. It makes us feel guilty and helpless and ambiguous about everything. It results in our attempt to control reality, and so the only talents we develop are manipulative ones.”

“The essence of Attitudinal Healing is learning to release all thoughts from our minds except love thoughts. It is correcting the misperception that we are separate from each other and that others are attacking us. It is relinquishing the need to analyze, interpret, and evaluate our relationships. Attitudinal Healing is simply seeing others as extending love or as being fearful and asking for love. It is letting go of fear and guilt and choosing to see everyone, including ourselves, as innocent. Attitudinal Healing occurs when we make the decision to teach only love.”

“When we do not feel loved or lovable, we usually make the mistake of trying to gain control over the external circumstances we believe are causing our unhappiness. Because this goal can only be fulfilled in the future, the present moment is devalued. Even a dismal future over which we have some control seems preferable to this moment. And happiness, which requires that our full attention be on the present, becomes fearful. If some degree of happiness should occur, anyone with this attitude would immediately become suspicious of it. Whenever we are afraid, we think we see value in keeping the present free of all love and enjoyment. Fear stimulates an unconscious desire to be unhappy in order that we may focus on, and control, the future.”

“Peace: • Defines healing as letting go of fear • Does not tell other people what to do but offers them choices • Emphasizes listening with empathy and without judgment or advice • Sets the goal of living a life focused on unconditional love • When we are occupied with helping another person, we do not experience fear.”

“It is now clear to me that each one of us determines the beliefs by which we live. We think we must identify with our past, but this is not so. There is an alternative. The world is not held together by our worrying about it. We can lead a life that is free of fear. Just as I am, you are the determiner of everything that happens to you. This fact should not make us feel guilty; it should instead provide freedom to be at peace.”

“It was a powerful lesson to realize that when I focused only on helping, I had no fear. There were other times during my assignment to that ward, when I would evaluate what I was getting or not getting, that I was immobilized with fear. The lesson was clear. When a person is concerned only with giving, there is no anxiety.”

“Either resentment or pride results when our goal is to change someone.”

“If you will simply think what it pleases you to think, what rests and comforts you, you will be doing all I suggest.”

“Far more often than we realize, we see only the past in the people we encounter. But it is actually our past, rather than theirs, that we view as part of them. Consequently, we do not respond to them but only to our various preconceptions. The genuine desire to see others as they are this instant will go a long way toward purifying our attitudes. There would be very little to dislike in other people if we refused to bring to them all our own judgments and petty grievances. Our past experiences cannot tell us of present love. Remembering and seeing are not the same, and that is why memories are of little use to us in forming loving relationships.”

“Our behavior should follow our peace of mind like a wake trailing the movements of a ship. If peace is our single aim in all we do, we will always know what to do because we will do whatever will protect and deepen our peace. This approach is in marked contrast to the exhausting attempt to decide every action beforehand on the basis of whether we think it will turn out right.”

“Here, then, are the twelve principles of Attitudinal Healing:

1. The essence of our being is love. Love cannot be hindered by what is merely physical. Therefore, we believe the mind has no limits; nothing is impossible; and all disease is potentially reversible. And because love is eternal, death need not be viewed fearfully.

2. Health is inner peace. Healing is letting go of fear. To make changing the body our goal is to fail to recognize that our single goal is peace of mind.

3. Giving and receiving are the same. When our attention is on giving and joining with others, fear is removed and we accept healing for ourselves.

4. We can let go of the past and the future. We experience inner peace when we let go of our attachments to the painful past and the fearful future and learn to live in the present.

5. Now is the only time there is. Pain, grief, depression, guilt, and other forms of fear disappear when the mind is focused in loving peace on this instant.

6. We learn to love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging. Forgiveness is the way to true health and happiness. When we choose to see everyone as a teacher of forgiveness, each moment gives us an opportunity for happiness, peace, and love.

7. We can become love-finders rather than faultfinders. Regardless of what another person’s behavior might be, we can always choose to see only the light of love in that person.

8. We can be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. Despite the chaos in our lives, we can choose to be peaceful, knowing that we are connected and sustained by our loving, peaceful Source.

9. We are students and teachers to each other. Peace comes to us when we recognize and demonstrate that all our relationships are equal.

10. We can focus on the whole of our lives rather than on the fragments. It is an illusion to believe that our lives are separate from each other. Healing is focusing on our interconnectedness with each other and all living things.

11. Because love is eternal, death need not be viewed as fearful. We begin to let go of our fear of death when we truly believe that what is real never changes and that Love is always present.

12. We can always see ourselves and others as extending love or giving a call for help. Rather than seeing anger and attack, it is always possible for us to recognize a call for help and to answer with love.”

“We become aware of love whenever we choose to accept people without judging them and commence the gentle effort of giving without any thought of getting something in return. This means, for example, that true love is not giving in order to change another’s attitude from a bad mood to one of light-heartedness or from ingratitude to one of thanks to us. True love is a completely pure and unencumbered form of giving. It is extended freely to the love in others and is its own reward.”

“The word love, as we generally use it, means something quite different from real love. It is conditional love—giving in order to get. It is a bargain, a trade arrangement. This is often fairly obvious in romantic relationships in which each partner is giving with the expectation that it will be returned in the specific form that is desired. Conditional love is also what passes for kindness in most parent/child relationships. Here, the extension of love is contingent on approved behavior and attitudes. Parents frequently seek an affirmation of their own worth through the accomplishments of their child and through “payments” of respect. Children often love their parents only when they get what they think they want, whether this be a new possession or approval and praise. Such love is neither dependable nor permanent, and its temporary nature causes us to carry the underlying fear that we are about to be abandoned.”

“We all say that we want to have less conflict, fear, stress, and depression. And deep within our hearts we do want this. But on the level from which we function most of the time, we rarely choose peace over conflict and happiness over fear because of the sacrifices we believe this choice must entail. We also believe that there is satisfaction in revenge, that we can be right by proving someone else wrong, that to humble someone who is being difficult will give us “a little peace and quiet.” It seems logical to us to be stern with our children in order to teach them gentleness. We think that there are people who deserve to lose because of their behavior and that the pain they receive is just. We try to increase love with one person by excluding others. We mistake guilt for attraction; we believe that pain can be pleasurable and that taking is getting. Then we are puzzled as to why this approach to life does not bring us peace, and yet we see no reason to change our basic beliefs.”

“Attitudinal Healing is concerned only with how. Are we acting with love, with peace, with happiness, and with certainty? If we are, whatever we do will promote those states.”

“Healing is letting go of fear, because when our mind releases fear it returns to its natural state of love and peace and naturally extends them into every aspect of our life.”

“We all have had moments when we were caught up in our own problems, whether physical, emotional, or financial, and we were suddenly called upon to help someone in need. Only after the crisis had passed did we notice that our own problems disappeared from our consciousness during the time we were focused on helping another. They disappeared from our awareness, but it is important to note that they may not have disappeared from our life. True healing is not a manipulation of an external situation. It is a change of heart, not a change of circumstances, even though a change of circumstances may accompany it.”

“Would you be willing to have peace of mind, if only for one instant?” I asked. “Yes,” she responded, “I haven’t had peace of mind for years. How do I get it?” “You have to be willing to look at each person in this room and love them with all the love within you without expecting anything in return,” I replied.”

“A good rule for mental conduct is this: Think whatever thought makes you truly happy. Once you are successful for one or two seconds, perhaps then you will be encouraged to extend the interval of concentration to several seconds and, later, to a minute or more. As you continue to retrain your mind, you will eventually find that the experience of love and peace can, on occasion, be extended throughout an entire day.”

“The importance of our attitude can be seen in an experience most of us are familiar with. We arrive home from work after a particularly difficult day. Our body is moving slowly, our spirits are lagging, and all we can contemplate is eating a quick dinner and collapsing into bed. Suddenly the phone rings, and it’s a dear friend who’s in town for the night and wants to meet for dinner. “I’ll be there in an hour,” we say. Whistling with joy, we jump in the shower and suddenly are full of energy. What happened? The day didn’t change. Nothing happened to our body. But our attitude underwent a transformation because we shifted from being preoccupied with the past (our exhausting day) to focusing on the present (preparing to be with our friend). When we were responding from the past, we felt drained of energy. When we responded from the present, we were joyful and full of energy.”

“Our fear of the future comes from the belief that the past is going to repeat itself in some painful way. When we continue to think of ourselves as damaged by our past, we must view the future fearfully because we believe more strongly in rejection and pain than we do in love and oneness. With this attitude, it is almost impossible to be happy. Many of us spend so much time brooding about the past and being afraid of the future that we do not even live in the here and now. Indeed, we superimpose the past upon the present and taint all of our experiences with old, unhappy lessons. How can we view our future with anything but dread when this is our attitude?”

“The present is the only time we can choose between love and fear. When we fret about the past or worry about what to do in the future, we accomplish nothing. And yet, our mental habit of reliving the past and rehearsing what is to come generates various forms of pain. A mental shift back into the present helps remove the source of misery. The fifth principle of Attitudinal Healing states Now is the only time there is. Pain, grief, depression, guilt, and other forms of fear disappear when the mind is focused in loving peace on this instant. This principle suggests another reality that is not based on linear time but rather on an instant of timelessness that can be eternally extended. It is possible to live each second within such timelessness and to experience the loving calm that awaits only our decision to focus on giving unconditional love to each other now. In this holy moment there are no expectations, no assumptions, and no confusions. We are at home in peace.”

“Our present thoughts and choices are the sole determiner of our present experience.”

“Learning to respond to now is all there is to learn, and we are not responding to this instant if we are judging any aspect of it. The ego looks around for something to criticize. This always involves a comparison with the past. But love looks upon the world peacefully and accepts. The ego searches for shortcomings and weaknesses. Love watches for any sign of light and strength. It sees how far we have come and not how far we have to go. How simple it is to love and how exhausting it is to always find fault, for every time we see a fault we think something needs to be done about it. Love knows that nothing is ever needed but more love.”

“For many, a mental image, such as the one I suggest in Love Is Letting Go of Fear, of filling a garbage can with our problems, attaching a helium balloon, and watching it all float out of sight can allow the mind to concentrate a little longer and thereby go a little deeper. A simple imagery such as imagining the light of God shining down upon the pain or the event, watching it surround it and dissolve it until there is nothing left but this light, can do much to release the mind of distress. The power is not in the particular imagery used but in our willingness to do something now to regain our peace.”

“Any emotion or thought that distresses us will begin to lose its hold on the mind when it is examined peacefully. Behind every negative feeling is an ego request, and we do not need to be afraid to look at what we are being asked to do, for when we see clearly what is being demanded by our ego, we also see that we do not want to do it. A good habit to cultivate is to pause whenever you are having difficulty releasing your mind from an upset and look directly and in detail at the contents of your mind. Only a fearful avoidance of your attack thoughts will appear to give them power over you. Nothing negative can stand before the light of peace. But do not make the mistake of getting caught up in analyzing the contents of your mind. For example, it will waste your time and will probably depress you to ask yourself why you started feeling this way, how long has it gone on, why do you keep making this same mistake, and what rule can you make to avoid feeling this way in the future. Instead, just look calmly at your unforgiving thoughts, in whatever form they are presently taking, and hear them out. Let your fears tell you their insane tale about the future. Allow your anger to suggest its ridiculous course of action. If you do this quietly and honestly, you will eventually laugh happily at the absurdity of it all and proceed again in love. There is no destructive thought or feeling that can withstand a persistent awareness.”

“Forgiveness is unquestionably the concept most central to Attitudinal Healing, and yet it is also the one most likely to be misunderstood. I have already said that true forgiveness is not the adoption of a morally superior position. Nor does it acknowledge someone else’s cruelty and pronounce it acceptable, for to do this would be dishonest. Forgiveness sees that no real grounds for condemnation exist, and for that to happen, new grounds for innocence must be recognized. Certainly the person’s behavior cannot be rationalized away. He did behave the way he behaved. Possibly another motivation can be attributed to his behavior, such as fear instead of selfishness, and although this can be a good first step, it is not sufficient in itself to allow us to see the splendor of God’s light within him. Forgiveness is a gentle turning away from what we see with our body’s eyes and searching for the truth that lies beyond the individual’s ego.”

“Most people understand that deep urges for goodness exist in everyone’s heart no matter how obscured they may be with guilt, defensiveness, dishonesty, and inhumanity. Forgiveness looks beyond the more superficial motivations of individuals, no matter how extreme these may be, to the place in their heart where they yearn for exactly what we yearn for. Everyone wants peace and safety. Everyone wants to make a difference. And everyone wants to release their potential for love. It is deep into this desire that forgiveness gazes, and seeing there a reflection of itself, it releases the person from judgment.”

“The seventh principle of Attitudinal Healing presents a clear choice we must all eventually make if we wish to know lasting peace and love. This choice requires a shift in perception from looking at the appearance or behavior of others to seeing the innocent heart we all share. Once made, this shift brings us nothing less than the experience of Heaven. It states We can become love-finders rather than faultfinders. Regardless of what another person’s behavior may be, we can always choose to see only the light of love in that person. All egos are alike. One ego is not better than another, and once we understand this and recognize how our ego operates, we can choose to react from our peaceful mind, our happy mind, our connected mind.”

“The ego is like an automatic pilot that can take us in only one direction—toward judgment, anger, fear, and guilt. Some people may act this out more destructively than others, but the fundamental mistake is the same. Very simply, the ego is a “fault-finder,” and it doesn’t care who or what is the object of its unhappy focus. The result is always the same—when we respond from the ego we have no sense of unity or wholeness within ourselves or our relationships, and we cannot experience peace of mind. To sustain inner peace, we must let go of our faultfinding judgments and instead become love-finders.”

“Most of us have a list of things that we don’t like or accept about ourselves. Most of us have also acted in ways that we are ashamed of or embarrassed about. But instead of forgiving ourselves and healing these sore places in our minds, our egos cleverly project these “faults” and “mistakes” onto others, as if seeing another as guilty makes us innocent. It is very difficult to believe that what we criticize or dislike in another is often a reflection of what we have rejected in ourselves. We may see someone else as racially prejudiced but not want to look at the part of us that is not free of prejudice. The ego actually believes that we can prove our innocence by making someone else guilty. We may call another person narrow-minded while denying our own narrow way of thinking. Because our egos believe in separation, they tempt us to go through the day looking for blemishes in each other.”

“Those who honestly monitor their thoughts are usually appalled to discover how many of them are negative and judgmental. But our egos don’t want us to be aware of this, because they desire conflict, separation, and fear. It is painful to realize that there is a part of all of us that wants nothing more than our unhappiness. But this recognition, rather than proving our guilt, allows us to look beyond the ego to our deeper self, our connected self, our loving self. Very simply, the way to inner peace is to go beyond faultfinding and to become love-finders.”

“Once we make the decision to go through life loving rather than judging, our lives are transformed! This can seem an almost impossible task for those who have not experienced the part of themselves that is already a love-finder. But it is the very fact that this part exists within all of us that makes such a transformation not only possible but sometimes surprisingly easy. All that is required is the willingness to closely question every judgment, every unhappy thought—whether directed at ourselves or another—and then to look within for the voice of love. You may be assured that this voice is your gift from your Higher Power, your way to see with love, your honest vision. From a spiritual standpoint, the true purpose of all our relationships is joining, and learning to look from love is simply acknowledging this truth. It is important to recognize that there is no dishonesty in this approach. You are not being asked to deny “reality” but rather to look from a deeper, more honest, more perceptive reality. And if you will do this, your heart will sing. You will know joy and peace, and you will become a love-finder.”

“Our ego teaches us that the past will predict the future. Because of this we believe that we are constantly in danger of losing everything that is meaningful to us. We think that at any moment we may be attacked, hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and victimized. The eighth principle of Attitudinal Healing reminds us that it is always our own thoughts about the world that cause us distress. It states we can be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. Despite the chaos in our lives, we can choose to be peaceful, knowing that we are connected and sustained by our loving, peaceful Source. Our past experiences often make us think that we are helpless and alone. The world looks dangerous, and we feel like fragile little beings who have little or no control over our own lives or the lives of those we love. Is it any wonder that we experience fear and confusion when we contemplate the future? Our ego tells us that such a way of looking is “honest” and “undeniable,” and it counsels us to look out for ourselves and to be cynical about the motives of everyone else.”

“I want you to consider the possibility that the world we see is upside down and that what we think is cause and effect may actually be the opposite. The belief system which we are used to living by teaches that the cause of our distress comes from outside of us. Thus we are always a potential victim of that over which we have no control.”

“When things go wrong in our lives—whether it’s within our relationships, our business, or our health—our “natural” tendency is to find someone to blame. But what happens when we play the ego’s destructive game and decide who’s to blame? Does that fix anything in our lives? Does that bring back our happiness or our inner peace? Do we feel more loved, more connected? Is our mind made whole? We have all made this mistake, and we have all seen the consequences. Projection and blame destroy our peace, our happiness, and our sense of oneness, and it does nothing for our problems.”

“Prayer: I am here only to be truly helpful. I am here to represent You who sent me. I do not have to worry about what to say. Or what to do because You who sent me will direct me. I am content to be wherever You wish. Knowing You go there with me. I will be healed as I let You teach me to heal.”

“Using our imaginations allows us to bypass our separate, fragmented selves. One imagery that is particularly helpful is to actively think of everyone we meet as our spiritual co-joined twin. If we truly do this consistently, we will not want to judge or attack anyone, because we recognize that we would be attacking ourselves as well. Children rarely have difficulty using their imaginations in this way, but adults often feel that such imageries are beneath them or are unsophisticated. But if you will suspend this cynical fragment of yourself for just one day, the experience of oneness, peace, and happiness that you will have will convince you that in reality our minds are already joined and that what you are now seeing is simply the truth which was always there.”

“Although we may be physically well, many of us go through the day feeling half-dead because of all the judgments we make. To the ego, our primary function in life is judging and interpreting the behavior of other bodies to see who is guilty and who is innocent. But we cannot do this without feeling disconnected and empty, which leads to the greatest malady of all—spiritual deprivation. In the shadow of this half-life, our daily activities often seem meaningless. We become afraid of life, of love and intimacy, of joy and happiness; we frequently find that we can commit to nothing, not even ourselves. In this deadened state we are numb to the beauty and mystery of life.”

“If you want to let go of your attachment to your body, you might try looking beyond your senses by imagining that there is a love filter over your eyes and ears so you see and hear only Love. When we become faultfinders, we immediately feel separate and identify with our body, which is the source of our fear. As love-finders we identify with our spiritual self and experience our connection with that which is eternal.”

“By reminding ourselves that there are only two emotions—love and fear—life becomes less complex. When we see someone who is acting from anger and judgment, we can recognize that they are fearful and need our love and support. No one who is angry and upset has ever been helped by more anger and attack. Love is truly the great healing force in the world.”

Book: Goodbye to Guilt

“When you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt.”

“Only your mind can produce fear.”

“I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts.”

“Love holds no grievances.”

“I will not be afraid of love today.”

“Love and guilt cannot coexist, and to accept one is to deny the other.”

“To love yourself is to heal yourself.”

“All healing is release from the past.”

“Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.”

“Only my own condemnation injures me. Only my own forgiveness sets me free.”

“Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.”

“Attitudinal healing is concerned only with changing the thoughts in our own mind. It is not focused on changing situations or other people in our lives.”

“The ego’s world is a pleasure/pain world, and, for most of us, there is more pain than pleasure. It believes that if you don’t fear the past and worry about the future, the world will fall apart. Separation is its game; so thinking of yourself first, getting and holding on to what little you can claim as your own, jealousy, possessiveness, and rejection are the core of its existence. The ego is certain that it—not God—is the director and ruler of the universe.”

“Many people have told me that the following mental imagery exercise in forgiveness has been of considerable help to them. Close your eyes. Use your imagination to see yourself in front of a very special microscope. While you are looking into the microscope, imagine you can see your own individual heart cells; look carefully and you will see they are round cells with smiling faces. These faces are smiling because they are completely full and saturated with love. They have everything they need within them; they need nothing from the outside. Their love just extends and expands, asking no questions and making no judgments. Each cell is a microcosm of you and me. Our identity, like the cell’s identity, is boundless love, and in our true state, we do not need anything from the outside. If you look carefully with your imagination, you will be able to see the energy radiating from the love in the cell as a white light getting brighter and brighter. See the white light obliterating the cellular membrane and joining the white light from all the other heart cells.“Now see your heart as a beautiful, pulsating white light getting brighter all the time. That light is a reflection of God’s love. Say to yourself silently, “I am the light of the world.” Now, use your imagination to its fullest. Visualize that light going to all the other cells in your body. See your body being transformed into a beam of light. Next, see your light joining and merging with all the other beams of light in the universe until there is just one universal light—continuing to get brighter and brighter. Now think of someone who irritates or depresses you—someone you have not totally forgiven. Let go of the guilty misperception that you have ever hurt this person or that he/she has ever hurt you. Let go of the past and see it as a dream that has vanished. Use your imagination and see that person walking into the light and becoming that light and, as you do that, say to yourself: I forgive you and me—both one and the same. Now I can say “good-bye to guilt and blame.”

“To heal is to join and become whole. Healing, therefore, is of the mind, not the body. Our biggest obstacle to experiencing peace of mind, or oneness with love, is our fear of God. Because we believe we are separate from God, we feel guilty and in conflict and competition with each other—and that is the bottom line of all our difficulties regardless of their nature. Healing is a process through which our mind is cleansed of its negative thoughts of fear and guilt—all those condemning judgments that make us feel vulnerable, separate, and fragmented. Forgiveness is the means by which this process is accomplished. It permits the mind, that misperceives and sees itself as split and separate, to be made whole. True healing, therefore, corrects the misperception that our minds are separate from each other and reestablishes our natural state where all minds are joined in love with each other and God. To accomplish healing, it is essential that we constantly remind ourselves that our one purpose in being with another person is to experience joining without judgment.”

“All anger is nothing more than an attempt to make someone feel guilty.”

“What is not love is always fear, and nothing else.”

“This statement reminds me that everything I see is determined by the thoughts I put in my mind. When I choose to have only God’s thoughts in my mind, there is only the extension of love—there is no projection, there is no judgment.”

“In practicing today’s lesson, I have found the following process helpful. Imagine that the entire universe is made up only of light and that you are at the center of that light—in the heart of God. Recognize that your only reality is light. Now, while staying in the consciousness of that light, step into the world of illusion on the planet earth. Imagine that during that one second you are on earth, all you have to do is let your light shine on and through all minds. Then step back into the center of light once again. For that one, brief instant, while you were in the world of illusion, know that you were a messenger of God—a messenger of truth—bringing love and light to a world filled with fear and darkness. As a messenger of love, we don’t have to judge or evaluate; we don’t have to do anything except let the Christ light, which has always been in us, shine through. It naturally shines on everything and excludes nothing. As we repeat this process, reminding ourselves each time that “I can know love only in the present, our minds will experience the joy that comes from bringing light to a world of darkness. In this way, we awaken to the knowledge that we have never really left the heart of God, which is our home.”

Keep Learning

To keep growing you need to keep learning. I really enjoy reading books by people who have gone down paths I want to travel and learn from their experience. There are tons of resources on minimalism, mindfulness, and slow living. Here are some I have read/listened to myself that I got a lot of value from:

1)      Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

2)      Slow by Brooke McAlary

3)      The More of Less by Joshua Becker

4)      The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

5)      Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali

6)      Any of the books by Gerald Jampolsky

7)      The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson

8)      Judgement Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein

9)      Everybody Always by Bob Goff

10)   The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

11)   The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

12)   Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

13)   The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigen

14) Kinfolk Magazine

 

 

Inputs

What we see and hear has more of an impact on us than I think we care to admit. If you’re looking to simplify your life and embrace healthy living, you need to make sure what you are watching and what you are listening to is conducive to that. Case in point, my favorite show used to be Mad Men. Everyone on the shows drinks and smokes and I loved watching it because it reinforced by habits of overdrinking and smoking.

I struggled for a long time to find something to replace it but there are three things I have found that really do the trick to get my head in the right place:

1)      Apple Watch videos: The Apple Watch was created to help people live healthier lives and the videos for the products show people being active in an inspiring way. Here is a playlist of all the videos.

2)      Kinfolk videos: Kinfolk is a simple living magazine that has amazing design and content. They have also produced a fair amount of videos that inspire you to slow down and live simply. You can check them out here.

3)      Audiobooks: Whether you use Audible, the local library, or the iBooks store, you can get audiobooks by slow living advocates that will keep you going. Axis 360 is an app that is synced with local libraries so that you can get any of the library’s audiobooks downloaded right to your phone. Not all the books I want to read are on there but there are enough to keep me busy for a long time. I get most of my listening time in while I take my daily walks and on my commute to and from work.

4) Podcasts: The one I listen to religiously is called the Slow Home Podcast by Brooke McAlary. She has on guests who talk about everything from Zero Waste Living to decluttering to urban homesteading.

Embrace Simplicity

I love the quote “The items which you own and don’t use are stolen from those who can use them.” You know you should declutter and donate your closet packed with clothes so here’s how to get the motivation.

Step 1: Watch the Minimalism documentary on Netflix.

Step 2: Read the book or listen to the audiobook of Soulful Simplicity. You can always check if your library has it if you don’t want to spend the money.

Step 3: Read the book or listen to the audiobook The More of Less. You can always check if your library has it if you don’t want to spend the money.

Step 4: Find a non-profit who will come pick up the things you want to donate. For example, Google “donation pickup Kansas City” if you live in Kansas City.

Step 5: Set a date for the donation pickup to give you a deadline. And start to grab stuff you don’t use. The books in Step 2 and 3 have lots of great tips on how to choose what to give away.

Step 6: Listen to as many episodes of the Slow Home Podcast as you can to stay motivated.

 

 

Limit Alcohol

Alcohol causes cancer. Plus it has a TON of calories. You have to walk 30 minutes to burn the calories in ONE can of regular beer. And really it has no health benefits. Red wine may help but the impact on your cancer risk almost cancels it out.

So what to do instead? Make a special drink to replace it. I chose kombucha. It is basically a fermented carbonated sweet tea. Sound gross? The end product really just takes like a La Croix. I used this startup kit and it worked really well for me.


 

Exercise

If you try to lose weight by exercise alone you will fail. So why exercise? It is good for your heart and muscles. This may seem like it isn’t a big deal but when you run into 50 year olds getting strokes and heart attacks you’ll see that it doesn’t take a long time for bad habits to have a big impact.

Step 1: Start doing a 30 minute walk on your lunch break. I bring my walking shoes to work with me and my dress code is pretty casual so I can get away with it. If you are wearing a suit to work this probably won’t work.

Step 2: Do the 7 Minute Workout before you take a shower. I burn the same calories in those 7 minutes as I do on a 30 min walk.

Step 3: If you want to keep taking it up a notch, add a walk after dinner. I’ve got young kids so taking them out in the stroller is fun for them and gets me some more exercise.

With this you will be doing what you need to stay healthy and you don’t NEED to do anymore. Obviously if you want to get big muscles you’ll have to do more.

 

Eat Clean / Lose Weight

To burn off the calories from 8 walnuts you need to walk for 45 minutes. Moral of the story is that to lose weight you have to count your calories. You have to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound. So if you burn an extra 500 calories a day and keep your calories intake to only what you need, you will lose a pound a week. Find the “Lose It” app and use it to track your calories. It will tell you how many you are allowed per day.

Step 1: Only eat foods that don’t have a list of ingredients on them. Fruits, nuts, veggies, meat, dairy.

Step 2: Cut out bread. It just has way too many calories so if you eat an ok amount it means you can barely eat anything else and stay on target for your calorie goal.

Step 3: Drink as much green tea as you can.

Step 4: Eat/drink chia seeds (lots of good fiber)

Step 5: Take a shot each day that is ½ lemon juice and ½ Apple Cider Vinegar (make sure to get the ACV that “has the mother” on the label)

Step 6: At night drink a cup of hot water that has lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon in it.

Step 7: Use this BMI calculator to see what you should weigh based on your height and try to get into the healthy range.

Step 8: Take fish oil supplements

By doing these things you will automatically make it easier to stick to your calorie goal, plus all the vitamins you are getting will help your cholesterol levels.
 

Stop Smoking

The main options you have for things to help you quit are:

1. Wellbutrin

2. Hypnosis

3. Vape/Patches/Gum (Nicotine Replacement)

4. Chantix

5. Black Pepper

I finally quit with a combination of 1 and 2. The problem with 3 is that the withdrawal from nicotine is what is causing your quitting angst. So by slowly tapering down you are just painfully prolonging the withdrawal period. I tried 4 but it messed my sleep up really bad so I couldn’t continue it. I carried an inhaler thing that let me smell the scent of black pepper and it helped somewhat but didn’t really make a big dent.

Step 1: Talk to your doctor about getting on Wellbutrin if you can. Then quit cold turkey.

Step 2: Watch this video that explains the psychology of why you smoke and how to quit. 

Step 3: Listen to this hypnosis recording as many times as you can, at least once a day. Make sure it is uninterrupted.

Step 4: If you find depression creeping in from quitting smoking, listen to this hypnosis recording as many times as you can. Make sure it is uninterrupted.